Ohio's MAPS Air Museum
There are so many of them that upon first look it is difficult for your eyes to focus on just one. There are hulking, propeller-driven behemoths and there are sleek jets, including one of the Navy's Blue Angels planes, polished and radiating national pride. Smaller flying machines point their noses at you as if to say, "Hey, don't miss me!" And yes, if you look up there are planes hanging from the rafters too. Welcome to the Military Aviation Preservation Society Air Museum, known familiarly as the MAPS Air Museum.
Blue Angels jet
The MAPS Air Museum is located in North Canton, Ohio, not far from another museum that celebrates something else that's distinctly American, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. The scene described above is what you'll experience in the museum's main exhibit area, which is housed in a large airplane hangar. About 50 military aircraft are on display at any given time, and the selection of bombers, fighters and interceptors overflows onto the apron outside the hangar. Generally museum-goers can walk among unique craft like the A-7E Corsair II on the apron, but there's also an active runway at MAPS Air Museum so occasionally the apron is closed to foot traffic while a take-off, taxi or landing is in progress. While the aircraft are the obvious draw at MAPS Air Museum, there's also a lot more to see.
Japanese and German artifacts from WWII
The space at MAPS Air Museum is utilized extremely well; there are displays of all sorts throughout the hangar and in additional areas. There are uniforms, a very nice framed display of decorations and service awards, a Rosie the Riveter installation, a chilling display of Japanese and German artifacts from World War II, and even a B-61 "Silver Bullet" nuclear bomb, minus its warhead of course. Something else to look for is the (defused) bomb that features the infamous "Killroy Was Here" artwork. A fun interactive display is a device that shows on a radar screen all of the air traffic in the vicinity of the Akron-Canton airport; use a mouse to hover over any of the airplane icons and you'll see what flight it represents. Outside of the hangar is another very interesting installation; a Vietnam War-era field hospital set up under a huge tent. It is startling here to see the (what would now be considered) crude instruments that medics of the time had to work with.
Rosie the Riveter memorabilia
For all of the planes and associated aviation paraphernalia on view at MAPS Air Museum, perhaps the most intriguing things you can find there are not displays at all. On any given day many military veterans will visit the museum, and many of them had personal experiences with some of the planes on display or on the battlefields otherwise represented. It is these men and women that MAPS Air Museum honors the most, and talking to them will guarantee that you'll never forget your visit.
A-7E Corsair II
Tonja models gear worn by field medics
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